Human Exceptionalism

Chimps are Vicious Killers

Animal rights activists and others sometimes act as if chimpanzees and bonobos are somehow better than humans, not violent like us.

That was certainly the implication of studies conducted to determine if chimp violence was our fault. Nope. They are vicious killers–not only of prey like monkeys–but each other. From the New York Times story:

Are chimpanzees naturally violent to one another, or has the intrusion of humans into their environment made them aggressive? A new study, published Wednesday in Nature, is setting off a new round of debate around this question. The study’s authors argue that a review of all known cases when chimpanzees or bonobos in Africa killed members of their own species shows that violence is a natural part of chimp behavior and not the result of actions by humans that push chimp aggression to lethal attacks.

The researchers say their analysis supports the idea that warlike violence in chimps is a natural behavior that evolved because it can provide more resources or territory to the killers, at little risk. Critics say the data shows no such thing, largely because the measures of human impact on chimpanzees are inadequate.

Methinks the critics want it to be our fault as that would promote the anti-humanism we see among some chimp boosters, such as blatant anthropomorphist, Jane Goodall.

Don’t get me wrong. Chimp violence isn’t wrong behavior. It isn’t immoral. Chimps can’t act “right” or “wrong.” They are not moral beings. That is beyond their capacities. 

Only humans possess moral agency. That is one of the factors that make us exceptional. And that is why we cast harsh aspersions on those among us–as we should–who act as viciously as chimps or bonobos. 

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

Most Popular

Culture

A Farewell to the WASPs

The memorial service for Barbara Bush over the weekend marked the passing of an era. The outpouring of praise for a woman who was an unselfconscious member of a political elite, an insider and establishmentarian, spoke to a pang of regret over a lost ethos of leadership. George and Barbara Bush were easily ... Read More
Sports

Hurray for the NBA

Last month, just before the Final Four, I did a Q&A on college basketball with our Theodore Kupfer. Teddy K. is back, by popular demand, joined by two other experts: Vivek Dave, an old friend of mine from Michigan, who has long lived in Chicago, and David French, National Review’s Kentucky Kid, now ... Read More
Economy & Business

Trade Misunderstandings

I was distracted by other policy topics last week but not enough not to notice Peter Navarro’s article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined “China’s Faux Comparative Advantage.” Considering Navarro’s position in the White House, it is unfortunate that it demonstrates some serious misunderstandings ... Read More
Culture

Monday Links

A Supercut of Epic Movie Explosions. Can You Solve These 10 Medieval Riddles? The cost to make a Margherita pizza: $1.77. How much restaurants charge on average for a pizza: $12. The actual costs of restaurant foods. Vintage animation lessons -- how to make things cute. London's "Great ... Read More
World

On Trade, No One Is Waiting for Washington

President Donald Trump’s flips and flops on trade are now as ubiquitous as his 5:00 a.m. tweets. Many predicted that trade-expansion efforts would come to a standstill and world commerce would suffer amidst all the uncertainty. Instead, the precise opposite has happened. In the last few months, it’s become ... Read More